Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear?
after the election 2016

It seems we had an election last week.

Did y’all hear that?

These months, alas, years, leading up to it have shown the divide in our country like nothing we’ve seen since the Civil War. Although this very divide has been growing for quite some time.

You’ve seen this as well, right?

And ah, the hate spewed on social media. My goodness. I’ve read with chagrin turned to horror people’s posts.

I wrote a while back about keeping your friends through this campaign. It got a lot of comments.

But that even seems passé at this point.

On election day, I read with a sense of hope all the FB posts about: At least all this hate will all be over today!

Then Wednesday morning, of course, awoke to the absolute opposite.

With horror I saw the litany of posts spewing more venom. From both sides.

From people I know more than virtually.

Just one said, “For all the people who’ve made fun of my conservative values the last 8 years, go eat shit.”

Now, that’s how we bring our country together.

For the first time ever I unfriended someone on FB.

Now, full disclosure—my candidate did not win.

Am I sad, worried, concerned for our country?

Yes, I am.

Do I want those who disagree with me to go eat shit?

That would be a big fat resounding no.

One thing we know from this long campaign season, is that half of this country has felt disenfranchised over the past 8 years. And longer.

And we can say for certain now, that half of the country feels disenfranchised today.

But aside from some of the baser instincts coming to the fore, most of us want the same thing—what’s best for this country. For us. Even if we don’t know how to get there.

I had a long conversation with a dear friend the night after the election. She voted differently from how I did. Our talk was respectful. I could see some of her points. And she could understand mine. We agreed to disagree on many.

But on most, we agreed.

She is still a dear friend of mine.

Of course, both candidates had huge negatives. Our choices weren’t between Jesus and Buddha. This made people truly uneasy.

And when folks are uneasy, they vote from the fear in their hearts, not their heads. And somewhere in the mix, the actual issues got lost.

That’s politics, no?

In my lifetime, politics has been a dirty business. Really dirty. Although it’s pretty much always been, to some degree.

Think this one was bad? Most scholars agree that the dirtiest political campaign belonged to the Andrew Jackson/John Quincy Adams contest of 1828.

No wonder citizens get disgusted.

Again, full disclosure here—my degree is in Political Science. I’m your basic poly-wonk. Because the devil truly is in the weeds of things.

And of course, the point of a campaign is to win. At all costs. As Lord Acton famously said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But none of this could occur without us, the voting public, allowing it.

Do I believe there are enormous stakes here?

Yes, I do. Oh, yes, I do.

Issues I care hugely about. And can debate the actual facts of.

So I’m more troubled that people didn’t vote on these stakes, or those values, or the actual issues. They voted on sound bites and political lies. On things I couldn’t care less about.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, will change until we do.

The big sentiment now, on social media and with the people I speak with, is: “The election is done. Get over it!”

But that’s very difficult to do, and indeed, not terribly sane, if you’re in one of those groups who feel disenfranchised.

And when not just livelihood is at stake, but in the climate of this campaign season, one’s very existence.

Groups of people who have been called out not for their transgressions, but for being who they are.

I’m not LGBT. But I have friends and family who are. I can vouch that they’ve had to walk difficult roads for decades. Not only from societal discrimination (and often from their own families), but legal discrimination as well.

I’ve been there with them. Many of the hoops they’ve had to jump through for basic rights—such as even being listed as next of kin to see loved ones in ICU—have been truly scary.

Their legal gains have been hard fought. And now, they’re terrified of losing them.

They have reason to be. Can you hear them?

I’m not Hispanic. But I have friends and family who are. And neighbors. None of them are rapists or murderers. They’re wonderful, hard-working folks.

Some have been citizens for generations. Some are first-generation immigrants.

And many are afraid.

Can you hear them?

I’m not black. But I have friends and neighbors who are. The outcry of, “Well, you wouldn’t go to jail if you weren’t out committing crimes,” may indeed be true in some cases.

But I can guarantee you—young black men truly are often stopped and questioned for being black. I’m not going to quote statistics here, but rather, from personal experience. I don’t need to question whether these stories are real. I know men this has happened to—personally.

The fear in black communities is real. I’ve felt that same fear as the boys here who’ve grown into fine young men make their way in this world.

Can you feel their fear?

I’m not Muslim. But I have editorial clients who have become friends who are. A man from Pakistan and one from Iraq. Both write beautiful novels about what life was and is like for folks from the Middle East. Novels that reach into the essence of the human soul.

Two finer, sweeter, more ethical men, I’m not sure I’ve ever met.

That they could be caught up in some racial-profiling net terrifies them, as it does their families.

They’ve been told through this campaign season that this would happen.

Can you imagine their fear? Can you hear it?

I’m not Jewish. But I have dear friends and almost family (I was engaged to a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, and we’re still very close) who are.

Breitbart News, the site chaired by President-elect Trump’s newly named chief strategist Steve Bannon, is widely known as a platform for white nationalism and anti-Semitism. In May, Breitbart ran a column with a headline calling anti-Trump conservative writer Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew.”

Kistol is a very conservative Republican.

While still at Breitbart, Bannon told Mother Jones in an August interview, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”

The alt-right — a loose movement that has gained prominence during this election season — promotes white nationalism and has been accused of being racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic.

Haven’t we been down this road before? And if history serves, it didn’t work out very well . . .

If you were Jewish, wouldn’t you be deeply afraid? Aren’t you anyway?

I am, however, female. And a woman’s right to the autonomy over her own body is of paramount importance to me.

So are issues such as spousal abuse and the denigration of women in general.

So, too, is sexual harassment in the workplace.

In an interview with USA Today, Candidate Trump responded to a question of what his daughter Ivanka should do if sexually harassed.

“I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” Trump said.

???????????????

I have no printable response to that. Can you hear my fear?

We’re also seeing lots of play upon who has a President and who doesn’t. And without going into all the ins and outs of that, when asked whether Trump is my President, my answer is yes.

Yes, he is.

I’m a citizen of these United States. I pay my taxes, and have voted in every single election since I turned 18. Whether I voted for the candidate who won or not, the person who’s elected is indeed my President.

But there’s a fundamental truth here, which has gotten entirely lost in this process:

I don’t pay politicians to “lead” me. I pay them to represent my interests.

And to do that, I have to actually know what my interests are.

Which I know well.

It also makes an enormous difference if I can hear the concerns of folks in groups I’m not part of.

Can you hear them?

And before you rail against the “other side,” remember for a second who that “other side” is.

It’s your friends, your family, your spouses even.

My friend with whom I disagreed? For the first time in their 40-year marriage, she and her spouse voted differently.

And yes, they’re still married. Still respect and love one another.

SNL, for only the third time in its history, aired a cold opening Saturday night. Kate McKinnon, who has been satirizing Hillary Clinton this campaign season, opened without jokes, but instead singing Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluiah.”

It brought home, if nothing else, that half of this country isn’t going to just “get by this,” as so many keep loudly saying.

Emotions run deep.

So when you tell that half of the country to “get over it,” what people hear is:

The issues they face don’t matter.

Their visceral fear doesn’t matter.

They themselves don’t matter.

I can hear (and will surely hear from) folks angrily reacting to this. But rest assured I’m not attacking anyone’s beliefs. And will be most happy to debate them—while remaining respectful.

I only ask that you pause, take a deep breath, and remember that none of us have all the answers.

There is no politician on this planet who can bring us together. Nor “heal” this nation.

Only we can.

If we can listen to one another, have civil discourse, try to understand why another holds a different belief and how that relates to our country, to our Constitution, be willing to look at where our own beliefs might contain a flaw, if we can do all of that, then politicians cannot divide us for their own power and gain.

Unless we let them.

Will you?

The second paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence begins:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Do you hear what I hear?

This Post Has 56 Comments

  1. I really cannot say anything about what is going on in the world! All i wish and pray is for everybody to just come together, forget their differences and work hand in hand to achieve success.

  2. Susan,
    A great article that was very well thought out and really enjoyed the points you made on divide us, we need to stick together and not separate. Great Post!

    Lori English

    1. Just think how powerful we would be if we did stick together, Lori!

  3. Yes, yes, yes. And so much more. I’m still in disbelief. I just can’t wrap my head around it.

  4. Hi Susan,

    I stopped posting on my personal Facebook Page quite a while ago. I do believe that everyone has a right to have their voice heard. Personally, I am not interested in hearing all of those voices and that is why I do not engage on social media other than on a business page. Also, people say things on social media that they are too cowardly to say to others directly.

    During this election, there were many views I disagreed with; however, I still have a connection to people from all walks of life with all types of personalities.

    1. Isn’t social media the oddest place imaginable, Rachel. But good for you for keeping your connections, no matter if others’ views differ from yours!

  5. I don’t bother much with arguing about election anymore. It’s done whether everyone is happy about outcome or not.

    1. And arguing never did any good anyhow, right, Alicia?

  6. I hear you Susan and those who you hear. Even on the other side of the world, emotions re the U.S election ran deep and caused friction among friends and family. During our last election, we managed to vote in some people who seem determined to turn back the clock and take away rights that were so hard fought for. It is a scary time – a time we need to listen to each other with respect and kindness, not divisiveness and hate.

  7. Yep.. it has been horrible indeed and like you, the same folks I talk with have bashed all supporters of this or that… and such hate. Sure, my candidate won, and like you said, those of us who are happy now, were distraught the last 8 years.. but we’ve made it through worse times – wars against all Americans and here we are.. dividing America and hating each other based on who they voted for not for who we are and lumping large groups of people together without knowing.

    I haven’t unfriended anyone because I am not shallow but I sure have unfollowed folks because I refuse to get on the bash train and comment, so best way for me to do that is.. unfollow, at least for awhile.

    This too will pass.. and nobody, not even Trump can determine what WILL in fact happen, so let’s stop acting like fortune tellers, pull up our big girl/boy panties/pants, be good people, live our life and move forward, with love for life.

    1. I hear you, Kristen. I’ve heard from so many folks the last 8 years who were distraught. But we do have common ground, no? We’re all part of these United States.

  8. Brilliantly observed and written, Susan! As a Canadian and a woman and someone of the Jewish faith, I hear you on every point. I wonder where our ability to see past the differences and to honour and respect the other for who they are, all fell apart. Maybe that is an outcome of a patriarchal driven society? I am sad and disappointed for all the gains that appear to be lost. I have been imagining a miracle where we come together and work together, in spite of the differences, but from a place of our similarities. We are after all, all human beings. Thanks for sharing this very eloquent look at where we have arrived in our collective humanity. Peace and love…these are the hippie values we seem to need the most today!

    1. “To honour and respect the other for who they are.” You just said it all, Beverley. The “where” that fell apart will be the topic for scholars for generations to come, I suspect.
      And absolutely–a little old-fashioned hippie peace and love would sure be helpful now!

  9. Frankly, I don’t know what to say on this topic since I’m your neighboring country. But I hear ya …

  10. Wonderful commentary, beautifully written! Thank you for sharing. I was also disappointed in the results of the election – but this is not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. What is different about this year’s election is that it has inspired a new set of funny comments that I wisely keep to myself.

    1. Okay, so of course you tweaked my interest about the funny comments, Sharon! I’ve gotten big laughs out of all the Biden memes going around.

  11. Hi Susan….weird times huh? I never knew that you were a poly sci major. But it makes sense with your very thoughtful post. It has taken me the last week to process and mourn the loss of my own hopes and expectations about this election. And while I hope that my response has not shown anger and blame towards others, there have been a couple of times when it was really challenging. As you said, there is a lot of fear and anger out there and we never do well when add to that. I agree that that the solution to all this division is tough but we must find a way. Of course as my husband Thom says, sometimes you have to break down before you can break through. I think we’re very close to breaking through. ~Kathy

    1. Weird times, indeed, Kathy. And it’s people like you who will find the solution to all this division.
      I like Thom’s prescription very much as well!

  12. In my opinion we need to cool off and let the president do his work. Everyone deserves a chance. I also do not like to engage in politics talk as I do not like confrontation or to be attacked.

    1. Attacking is the last thing I wanted to do here, Adriana. Understanding, working together, hearing all of our concerns and needs–that’s my point.

  13. I’m in the UK and the election over in the USA took over our televisions and radio stations for a couple of days too. I wish our world was a better place, but it isn’t. Too much hate and not enough love.

    1. I can just imagine how this played out in the UK, Sonya. And I agree with you–so let’s foster the love.

  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I see there is really a lot of dissatisfaction in social media. I feel sorry many were troubled. There were times I need to just stay away from FB as the posts can actually penetrate one’s energy. The last election seemed like a long one and the domino effect of the result is quite here to stay for a while. I just hope there would be peace. It all starts from within and may everyone seek it.

  15. I really hope we can all just stop the fighting. It’s not going to get any of us anywhere

    1. We’ll have to work at it, CourtneyLynne. And the way to achieve that is to listen to, and actually hear, the hearts that beat under the words of those we disagree with.

  16. Yes, I hear what you hear and have been having the same thoughts that you have expressed so eloquently. I also have the tendency to agree to disagree–Not all of my friends voted the way you and I did–and yes-with some I was able to discuss it rationally and calmly–others–well. At this point I am saying to myself que sera sera (whatever will be will be)-but still signing petitions to try and save the freedoms we all are supposed to enjoy in this country.

    1. I do believe, Michele, that’s the entire key here–agree to disagree, but work for the things we believe in. You go, girl!

  17. Wonderfully written post Susan 🙂 Thank you for your awesome thoughts on this election. Your feelings are right on and as for the hate all over social media, I can totally relate, what the heck is wrong with people, come on, really??? I have had to block a few and unfollow, but all is good 🙂

    This year’s election has been tough on so many, but it is a much needed change that this country needs, because what has been going on the past 8 years, this is going to be interesting to see what Trump actually does for our country 🙂

    Great post!

    1. Isn’t it amazing, Joan? I do believe we all want the same thing–the best for ourselves and our country. How we get there is what’s always up for grabs, but then, that’s why we have language . . .

  18. When I first read the title, I starting playing the old Christmas tune in my head (Do you hear what I hear…), and with that, gave me a peace as I read the article. Whatever side one is on, ear worms are a good thing:)

    1. You got it, Robin! That song played in my head the entire time I was writing it, and is still playing. It just came to me that way. And, it was the spirit covering the entire post.

  19. Thanks for expressing your opinion and yet being respectful enough to know that we all want the same thing. A safe and happy life for ourselves, our friends,family and neighbors. I love this country 💕

    1. Absolutely, Alene. Isn’t that the key to our sucess?

  20. So well said, Susan. I didn’t post anything political during the election season and eventually “unfollowed” (not unfriended) lots of friends who had a constant stream of political posts (on both sides). I just didn’t need the negativity in my FB feed. I posted the day after the election about participating in every election for 40 years. Sometimes “my candidate” won, sometimes they lost. But we all still got up, went to work, took care of our kids and life went on. I wasn’t minimizing anyone’s fear. This year “my candidate” lost. My husband and I voted for different people and we still love each others. I had lunch with 2 lifelong friends that same day who voted differently from me and we still shared our lives and laughed a lot! I’ve never seen anything in my lifetime like this election. But like you, I am a US Citizen. The President-elect will be my president and I am praying that God gives him wisdom to do a good job for all.

    1. I love that, Cathy! Yep, you still love the folks who didn’t vote as you did, and obviously respect and love them. Isn’t that what our country, and indeed, our lives as human beings, is about?

  21. I am so with you! When I got up the Wednesday after Election Day, I checked online and my first thought was, “What have we done?” It speaks to a deep level of wishful thinking, of wanting to go back to the Good Old Days…which were good for only a select few, meaning mostly white males. Gentlemen — and an appalling number of women — there is no going back, only forward.

    Your comment about “getting over it” — someone said that to me also and my response was I will not. I cannot. It goes beyond politics and speaks to character. Any man who feel that his wealth and power gives him the right to grope women does not deserve to be the leader of the free world. As an indicator of character…well. I’m deeply frightened for us all.

    1. You are not alone, Jackie. SO many people feel the same way. That “what have we done” question just weighs in the air, no? Funny thing is, over half the country feels this way. I’ve yet to talk to a single person who didn’t vote for the winning candidate, who has been able to “get over it” . . .

  22. You stated much of how I feel too. This election has shaken me to the very core. As a woman, I’m terrified. But I’m also terrified for some of the children in my family. We have 6 nieces and nephews. 1 of them has special needs. 4 of the others are of mixed race. I love them with all my heart, and I’d give anything to give them a world free of this hatred. So I will not be silent. I will step up to be a voice for them. If I want them to have better lives, I cannot depend on anyone else to change things. It’s up to me to give it my all. They matter — no matter what anyone says.

    1. You just voiced what half the country is thinking, Jennifer, and feeling–terrified. And, you voiced the solution–get involved, stay involved. Do not go quietly into that dark night . . .

  23. Thanks for having the courage to share honestly Susan. I believe that both parties are going through a much needed transformation and what is reflected in our world is also the reflection in ourselves. The more we can slow down our thoughts, which control our feelings and beliefs, the more we will have the power to create positive change.

    My heart goes out to all my friends who don’t fit well into the “white male system” which apparently is composed of too many white women now too. My blog The Bully Archetype fits well with what you wrote.

    We are all in this together!

    1. So absolutely true–we are all in this together, Candess. And creating positive change is our best hope. I loved your blog on the Bully Archetype, and yes–so apropos today!

  24. Susan, Susan, Susan. I couldn’t have said it better myself. My candidate didn’t win either. I am sitting here shaking my head yes to every.single.paragraph of this article. I agree that NO politician can bring us together. WE can do that. What a powerful message you shared here. I’m sharing everywhere:-) Thanks so much for this.

    1. It’s up to us, isn’t it, Tandy. I myself will not stay silent . . . Thanks for sharing it!

  25. Glad you are willing to discuss this. At this point, I just want to let time pass a little for the emotions to calm down.

    1. We have to discuss it, don’t we, Karen. Otherwise the monster will grow in the dark . . .

  26. Wonderfully written post Susan & I do agree that we must come together and be able to see, hear, and feel the fears of the people on the “other side” and yes, Pres elect Donald Trump will be our president. I stop at being able to support him. Everything he stands for and the men he is appointing to his cabinet &staff are frightening decisions. We all have a lot to fear and the answer is in getting EVERYONE involved loved in not only voting but inholding our government accountable to what they are allowing DJT to get away with this is a very scary time fir our country

    1. I agree entirely, Lisa. This has gotten infinitely scarier since I wrote this post! We all have to get involved. Or go down the drain with our country . . .

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